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Three year old and the violin


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I have a three year old that loves to dance when I play my violin. She is now big enough to hold the bow and play open strings if I help her old the instrument.

Since she is showing interest, is it too early to put a small fractional violin in her hands? If you think she is old enough that leads to a couple of additional questions.

First, should I let her play the instrument how and when she wants with little regard for formal instruction and just let her "familiarize" her with the instrument?

When is a child old enough to begin formal instruction?

How do I determine the appropriate violin size for a small/young child?

Are there any books that may be of value and useful to me, the parent?


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By all means get her a fiddle that she can try out and hold. Just let her play around probably until age 5 or 6. She can hold it and not get discouraged. By age 5 or 6 she should be ready for lessons.

A fractional size fiddle fits under the chin and the scroll fits in the palm of the hand without being too long for the hand.

I use a 1/10 the for a five year old but have all sizes up from that. I have started three boys at age 5 and 6 with this method.


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Sounds like you ought to talk to a Suzuki teacher. The good ones seem to be able to work with really young kids, and that is what the Suzuki method was designed to do. If nothing else, by talking to a teacher, you could get an overview of how they would teach your daughter (I think sometimes they start with little fake violins). As a traditional teacher, I wouldn't start a child that young, but I have a friend who as a Suzuki teacher, starts many kids at 3.

As for size of the violin -- take a yardstick and have her hold it with the low numbered end at her neck and with her left arm palm up outstretched to the left, arm straight along the yardstick. Note where the palm of her hand is: 14" = 1/16 size, 15-3/8" = 1/10 size, 16-7/8" = 1/8 size, 18-1/2" = 1/4 size, and 20-3/8" = 1/2 size

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Personally I think the best way to begin kids on any instrument is to see that they get their music fundamentals established through piano first. Rather than coupling the difficulties of instrument technique with learning how to read music, do it one after the other.

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something you may want to try is putting her in a class such as the Kodaly method. i started learning music this way and i think it had many benefits -- it's a class based around learning rhythm, singing songs, learning pitch discrimination (i sometimes wonder if the fact that i have perfect pitch can be somewhat attributed to the early training of this class) and basically learning the basics while having fun with music and being a three-year-old.

i also agree that sometimes learning piano first can be a big help -- if she turns out to want to be a serious player, piano is an immeasurable aid when starting studies in harmony in particular, it lends an interesting verticality to music that is difficult to see sometimes as a violinist.

i think above all, though, what my very first violin teacher told me is very true: kids have to have fun with music. if they don't have fun, they won't do it.


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Just don't pay for VIOLIN lessons.. Fun, music appreciation classes are great at that age but formal violin lessons seem to be a waste on the tiny ones. I've seen bunches of 3 year olds in Suzuki and only one who could play anything. A year makes a big difference at that age and many 5 year olds really take off, playing wonderfully in a short period of time. 3 year olds tend to stand like deer in the headlights. Of course..there is always that one...

Shar sells a fake violin and bow for around $9. Maybe she would like to play around with that before a fractional model?


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What interesting responses to this question. Actually, I find myself in agreement with all of them.

What I gather from it all is that there's no ONE way to go here (although anything that would create resentment/destroy the fun of music is to be avoided, of course), and knowing your child -- and being response/flexible -- is paramount. I would also say the teacher is equally critical at this stage.

My daughter began her violin studies somewhere at 3.5 years old with a teacher highly skilled in working with young ones.

For her, at least, it worked admirably (and it wasn't even Suzuki -- it was Shirley Givens' Adventures in Violinland).

She made steady progress from the very beginning. By the time she was five, she was playing for entire school assemblies. At the same time, it certainly is true that her progress did go into a kind of hyperdrive when she was about five.

Also, I will say that while I did allow my daughter to begin lessons at that early age -- at her request -- I was hesitant and fully ready to stop them if they didn't go well.

I certainly don't think there's any great necessity to begin lessons at 3. It can work with some kids, not with others.

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My 2 cents ...

Get her to a teacher experienced in teaching very young children.

The psychology of teaching a 3 year old is the most valuable

bit of expertise a teacher can bring at this stage.

Of course not all 3 year olds are ready for formal lessons

but you won't know until you try, and you wouldn't want to

miss any window of opportunity. If your daughter doesn't

respond to the lessons, you can always stop and resume at

a later age.

I recommend talking to a good Suzuki-method teacher.

The group lessons are great for children her age, and

the suzuki teacher-parent-child teaching scheme fits well

with parents who want an involved role in their child's

early music training.

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